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Is a ‘fake’ body more real than a natural one?
A virtue ethical critique of trying to extract existential guidance and excuses from one’s default nature
Dans le cadre des midis de l’éthique du CRÉUM, nous accueillons Pieter Bonte qui nous parlera de bioéthique.
Bracketing non-intrinsic questions of safety and social circumstance, I argue that the profound alteration of one’s given nature for its own sake, for instance by ingesting chemicals or implanting prostheses, can be a very sensical endeavour. It could be virtuously undertaken to authentically reflect the causa sui or even imago dei dignity of man, which stems from the peculiar predicament of finding one’s existence precede essence. Acknowledging oneself as such can have an ‘unbearable lightness’ to it. It reveals one to be absurdly circular and deeply responsible. An animalistic “sureness of physical selfhood” – which, as Walter Berglund laments in Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, would deliver us from foundationless freedom and ruthless responsibility – is lost. Authentic commitment to human(ist) dignity, however, should keep us from trying to regain such ‘sureness’ by warping ourselves into a self-deceptive self-understanding as ‘creature’ or as ‘animal’ in order to feel cradled, guided and excused be a ‘given’ particular nature. To better resist copping out and caving in to such temptations of ‘freeing ourselves from freedom’, perhaps we do right to deeply mark our animal flesh with an indelible mark of our own will.